Jim sat, staring out the window, holding a mug of coffee on the table in front of him. The blue sky was, I am sure, attempting to poke its little nose out in front of the clouds, but at least for now, it was defeated by the drab gray of melancholy. And so it was inside Jim’s heart as well.
Jim’s friend burst through the front door, as he did on so many occasions over the four years they had known each other. Alan was always excited about something or other, and today was no exception.
“Jimmy! Yo Jimmy! Check it out, I got this letter in the mail today and it ––“
Alan stopped when he saw Jim sitting at the table, looking out the window as if somebody had just died. But then again, somebody had just died. Jim’s mom to be exact. Well, it had been a couple months, but I think death has a tendency to slow down time, wouldn’t you agree?
Alan slowly walked over to Jim and as softly as he could, said “thinking about your mom?”
Without missing a beat, Jim returned with four brave words, words spoken with no cracked voice or heavy breathing. “This was mom’s mug.”
He meant to say more, but he reached his word limit for the day and a silver tear rolled down his face. He may have been taught that crying isn’t manly, but the death of a loved one allows for broken rules. And it was a dumb rule anyway, he decided.
Alan pulled up a chair and looked out the window with his friend. His exciting news could wait.
They sat there together for a long time, neither wasting any words. Alan’s presence alone told Jim that he was loved, that he mattered. Alan knew from experience that words often made these kinds of situations worse. He had lost his mother too, when he was just a kid. He remembered the feeling of loneliness because none of his friends understood how to act around somebody who’s mourning. But Alan’s tough experiences had made him a stronger person. He learned never to laugh at another man’s misfortune, always to give people the benefit of the doubt, and most importantly, he learned how to shut up when he needed to.
And so Alan just sat with his best friend, allowing him to feel the pain and work through it.
“She would sit at the table every morning with this mug full of coffee and just look out the window,” Jim began, “sometimes she’d sit there for an hour, just thinking. All of us kids knew not to disturb her when she was there. I guess it was her way of enjoying the peace of the morning. She didn’t get a whole lot of quiet with ten kids running around the house.”
Jim and Alan laughed quietly together.
After another long moment, Jim said “Thanks for being here for me, Al.”
I cut the scene off here because it was just too sweet and too sad to dwell on any longer. Maybe some other important words were exchanged between the two friends that you would’ve liked to read, but sometimes you just have to leave your characters alone to live their own lives.